April 22 is Earth Day and organizations and groups around the world are advocating for the need for people to take necessary steps to help the environment.
When it comes to African Americans and Earth Day, mainstream media doesn’t give the best representation of diversity in environmentalism. However, groups, including the National Black Environmental Justice Network, serve as strong advocates about the need to include Blacks in the conversation.
A University of Michigan study found that African Americans are more likely than white Americans to make lifestyle choices that help protect the environment. Areas where Blacks favored the most were consuming less meat and driving less.
However, the study found that Black Americans were less likely to recycle than whites.
While activists and environmentalists are calling for major government agencies and companies to do more to make things better, there are small things the average person can do. Some things might seem like common sense, however, it never hurts to get a refresher. Here are 10 things you can start doing this Earth Day:
1.) Change your lights
If you haven’t caught on to the compact florescent light craze now would be a good time. Studies suggest that if every American household replaced one regular light bulb with a florescent bulb, pollution would be reduced to the equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. Florescent bulbs use less electricity that could make that ConEd bill a little lower.
2.) Recycle unwanted wire hangers
We all have them in our homes in the closet, a bin or drawer somewhere. While they are made of steel and are not accepted by recycling centers, many dry cleaners accept them or you can give them away when donating clothes.
3.) Fly with an e-ticket
As the summer vacation season gears up, millions of Americans will be flying off to their destinations to paradise or to see family and friends. Instead of carrying papers with your flight information to the airport, many airlines offer e-tickets with apps on smartphones. Experts say that in years to come paper tickets will no longer be an option saving airlines $3 billion a year and cutting down on the price of traveling.
4.) Recycle your old phones
While it seems cell phone makers come out with new models every month, old phones we have pile up in our junk drawers. The average cell phone last 18 months leading to them ending up in landfills along with the toxic substances they contain. Many non-profit organizations and electronic stores take used cell phones and recycle them properly.
5.) Use your own coffee cup
When on our way to work everyday, it’s routine to go to the corner bodega and grab that cup of joe. With that coffee comes a disposable cup and sometimes a zarf (the holder around the cup) which leads to waste that can pile up. Instead, ask the store clerk if you can use your own reusable cup.
6.) Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
You remember being told this as a kid and it still applies. When cleaning that perfect smile, you can save five gallons of water a day if you turn off the faucet. Studies say that if everyone did it in the US, we could save 1.5 billion gallons of water.
7.) Go vegetarian once a week
Did you know it takes 2,500 gallons of water to make one pound of ground beef? Aside from the health benefits of being a vegetarian, it can also help the environment.
8.) Take shorter showers
Spending a little less time in the shower can save millions of gallons of water per year. Studies suggest that every two minutes you save in the shower can conserve 10 gallons of water. Here’s a tip: turn on your favorite song before going in the shower and stay in for the duration of the tune.
9.) Shop at thrift stores, garage sales, second-hand stores, etc…
Don’t let the stigma about buying used items get the best of you. Shopping at the thrift store, a garage sale or even Craigslist for the item you want won’t only ease your wallet but you’ll be helping the environment too. You might even find some treasure on your next buy.
10.) Wash with cold or warm water
When you’re doing laundry you could help save 100,000 barrels of oil a day washing your clothes in cold or warm water. And yes, your clothes will be just a clean. Many washing machines and laundry detergents are formulated to be effective using cold water.